22 February 2012

Basque Info 6th February – 21st February

In this issue:
 Imprisoned for another 10 years after already spending 20 in prison
 Basque workers mobilise against cuts and for sovereignty
 Campaign against torture continues
 6th annual International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country
 Arrests in the north and south of the country
 In solidarity with the Basque people, Colombian communities reject Garzon’s intervention

Imprisoned for another 10 years after already spending 20 in prison

Former Basque political prisoner Patxi Gomez was taken by the Spanish police in Bilbao today to serve his newly-extended sentence.

He was released in 2002 after completing three-quarters (13 years) of his sentence (standard remission in the Spanish state). But in 2003 the Spanish National Court returned him to jail for another three years after deciding he hadn't completed enough of his sentence but only one month before his release in 2006, the Spanish courts extended his sentence for 10 more years. His defense appealed the decision in 2009 and he was freed while awaiting the courts' decision.

Then following a Spanish Supreme Court's decision he was taken to spend 10 more years added to the already completed almost 20 years. Patxi Gomez is one of the more than 50 Basque political prisoners who have seen their sentences extended by the Spanish courts over the past few years. Those decisions have been deemed a cruel revenge and illegal by many law makers and solicitors.

In January 2010 the City Council of Ortuella, Gomez’s hometown, approved a motion in his support and condemning the extension of his sentence, supported by the votes of the PSE, PNV and EA.

The PSE City Councillor, Daniel Arranz, who had been the Civil Governor of Biscay from 1994 to 1996, argued at the time that he hoped that the decision adopted by the City Council would serve as “an example in the search for peace.”

Basque workers mobilise against cuts and for sovereignty

70% of public workers took part last Thursday in the four-hour strike called by the Basque pro-independence trade unions (their membership far exceeds that of the Spanish unions CCOO and UGT in the country). The strike was against the cuts imposed by the Government of the Basque Autonomous Region (which is run by the Basque branch of the Spanish social-democratic Socialist Party, as a result of the exclusion of the Basque Pro-Independence Left from the elections by banning them).

Twenty-two thousand workers marched in the three main cities during the afternoon. The Basque pro-independence left coalition Bildu (which won the council elections last May) supported the strike and has organised demonstrations tomorrow in the four southern provincial capitals in favour of "Political and economic sovereignty." Bildu said those who created the crisis are applying "financial terrorism."

Then on Friday the Basque pro-independence trade unions, which represent the majority of southern Basque workers, with the total support of the Basque pro-independence parties announced a general strike in the southern Basque Country (under Spanish administration) for March 29th against the cuts, labour law reforms and for sovereignty. This will be the third general strike of this kind in the Basque Country in less than two years.

On Saturday thousands of people took to the streets of the four southern capitals in demonstrations on the same issues, called by four Basque pro-independence left parties.

Campaign against torture continues

On the 13th February, 31 years ago, Basque pro-independence militant Joxe Arregi was tortured to death by the Spanish police. Since 13th February has become Anti-Torture Day in the Basque Country.

These pictures of Joxe Arregi's corpse were taken by close friends who, defying the authorities' threats, removed the body from the tomb in order to be able to prove what everybody suspected.

Some groups dealing with the past are now working on a census of Basques tortured over the last fifty years. They estimate that approximately 10,000 Basque citizens have been tortured by the Spanish police during that time.
6th annual International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country

The week of 18th-26th February will see many events organised in countries around the world during the 6th annual International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country. ‎ Below is the link for a video produced by the international network Euskal Herriaren Lagunak/Friends of the Basque Country and the Basque Pro-Independence Left's internationalist organization Askapena, calling supporters to take part in events in Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Brittany, London, Ireland, Italy, Paris ... and many other places.

Arrests in the north and south of the country

Basque sisters Nahia and Odre Lacroix were arrested this morning by French police in their home in the northern Basque Country. The police fired tear gas cannisters at supporters who gathered outside the house to protest. The sisters have been accused of taking part in damaging a building as part of the ongoing campaign against property speculation launched by Basque pro-independence groups decades ago.

Also Iñaki Igerategi and Inaxio Otaño were arrested by Spanish police during the early hours of yesterday in Andoain, a small town near Donostia/San Sebastian, accused of being ETA members. Spanish media sources said the police had information about them since 2008. Basque pro-independence parties and trade unions spoke against the arrests and expressed their concern for their well-being while incommunicado at the hands of the Spanish police. Three hundred and fifty people took part in the protests in Andoain during the evening.

Colombian communities reject Garzon’s intervention in part in solidarity with the Basque people

A statement issued by a long list of community organisations and organisations of relatives of ‘disappeared’ people in Colombia has declined to support Balthazar Garzón in investigating crimes by the state.

Garzón was one of the most active judges of the Spanish National Court in arresting Basque political activists who were then tortured while held incommunicado by the Spanish police. Statements extracted by torture were routinely used to condemn the accused and to charge others. Garzón and other judges of the court also routinely declined to investigate accusations by the detained of being tortured.

However, Garzón also wished to authorise the opening of mass and individual graves of Franco’s victims in the Spanish state. Other judges of the Spanish National Court declared that he was violating the law giving total amnesty for all crimes committed during Franco’s regime and have charged him as a result. Some people in the Spanish state have since been campaigning in support of Garzón.

Garzón has also been appointed to the Mission to Support the Peace Process in Columbia put together by the US-led Organization of American States.

In the statement the Columbian community organisations expressed support for Basque people persecuted by the Spanish National Court in general and by Garzón in particular, for those tortured and jailed and for those in exile (many of the latter in Latin America).

No comments: